The Differences Between a Master of Accountancy and an MBA

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Online Master of Accountancy

In many cases, postgraduate students come to the crossroads of deciding between a general degree such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or one that is more focused. Those looking to expand their career or knowledge in accounting, tend to weigh the differences between an MBA and a Master of Accountancy.

Female executive explaining new business idea to colleagues.

Master of Accountancy vs. MBA: Similarities

Professionals who possess either an MBA or a Master of Accountancy degree are recognized for prioritizing the development of their knowledge and professional skills. Both degrees indicate drive and aptitude. Possessing either degree will give any job candidate an edge over less qualified competitors.

A second similarity between a Master of Accountancy and an MBA is the availability of multiple professional trajectories possible with each degree. For example, the Ohio University Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program offers a course load that prepares students for different roles within the accounting career spectrum. These positions could include accountant, accountant director, chief financial officer, financial controller, accounting manager, or certified public accountant. The degree affords one the opportunities to develop the skill sets required for a variety of accounting positions in the workplace. Similarly, an MBA degree affords greater opportunities across a number of career paths.

Master of Accountancy vs. MBA: Differences

One large difference between an MBA and a Master of Accountancy is the nature of the skills acquired through each program. According to a comparison made by US News and World Reports, MBA students will gain a broad skill set that can be applied to a wide variety of positions, while a Master of Accountancy will prepare a student for a career more finitely focused in accounting and finance, providing in-depth development within a more defined skill set. Succinctly put, an MBA is wide, while a Master of Accountancy is deep.

Another difference between the two degrees is the length of time required to complete them. Specialized degrees, such as a Master of Accountancy, can be completed in less time than that what is required by most MBA programs. While the average time you might spend in obtaining your MBA is two years, many specialized programs can be completed in 12 to 16 months.

Networking opportunities exist within both types of programs. Another way an MBA may differ from a specialized degree is the nature of those opportunities. Students enrolled in an MBA program will be surrounded by a host of varying interests across many avenues of business. They may interact with people who are similar or vastly different with regard to skill sets, experience, and prospective career paths. Specialized programs, however, naturally attract those whose interests, skills, and career paths are more closely aligned. Deciding which environment might be more helpful for your career goals will help you choose between an MBA and a Master of Accountancy.

Types of Careers Available with an MBA:

MBA degrees are designed to be versatile and thus prepare students for a broad range of career paths. Many MBA students aspire to management or ownership positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management positions are projected to experience steady growth equal to that of the job market over the next 10 years and can boast median six-figure salaries.

One example of the type of management position more accessible to those with an MBA is business operations manager. Business operations managers must be versatile communicators and detail-oriented facilitators, as they coordinate operations among all factions of the company or organization. They must not only be able to manage the functional, everyday properties of the operation but also contribute to the development of its long-term strategy.

Another example of a position that could be attained or benefitted by completing an MBA would be a marketing manager. Marketing managers oversee operations within the marketing arm of a business. Though the role could vary widely based on the organization’s type, size, and structure, marketing managers play a significant role in conceptualizing marketing campaigns for the company and then managing their creation, execution, and evaluation.

Types of Careers Available with a MAcc:

Earning a Master of Accounting degree is meant to provide in-depth preparation for accounting and finance positions. Jobs can vary widely within the realm of these careers. One potential career path a MAcc degree would enhance could be that of an accountant. Accountants manage the financial duties of a business. These could include maintaining financial records, , reporting financial information, analyzing assets and risk management. Work settings could include international corporations, assisting start-up companies, or pretty much anything in between. Accountants can be employed by large external firms, or they might work in the finance and accounting function within a company. These roles can ultimately develop into the company’s future Chief Financial and Chief Executive Officers (CFO and CEO).

Another career choice within the accounting field is that of an auditor. Auditors are responsible for verifying the accuracy of a organization’s financial records, internal processes and tax submissions. While accounting is an ongoing process, audits are conducted periodically. Most larger companies employ internal auditors while other auditors work for independent firms or government agencies and evaluate multiple clients.

Carefully evaluate the differences between an MBA and a Master of Accounting. Deciding what type of postgraduate degree will best suit your financial career is an important step to developing your professional capabilities and reaching your goals.

Learn More at Ohio University

Numbers are the foundation of any business — and no one knows numbers better than accounting and finance professionals. But to succeed as a professional in today’s competitive landscape, you need more than numerical know-how; you need the expertise to conduct analysis and leverage data to drive business decisions. That’s exactly what the online Master of Accountancy from Ohio University prepares you to do.


Accounting – Accountants and Auditors – Managers – Financial Managers

US News – Business Operations Manager


US News – Decide between an MBA and MS at Business school